A couple anticipated attending the opening of a new museum exhibit.
At the last moment, their childcare plans fell through. They were left with the only option of taking their young daughter, seven years old, with them. They expected that the event would be tedious for the girl, but hoped she would not be a drain on their evening.
The exhibit was large and varied. One room of watercolor paintings, another of pen and ink sketches. In another great bronze sculpting. In another, modern art in oil. And in another, small blown glass figurines. Exquisite. Gossamer.
The little girl spent the evening mesmerized.
On the way home, the parents said to their daughter, “We’re sorry we took you to such a long adult event. But we’re proud of the way you behaved. And we want to thank you. Did you enjoy any of the evening?”
The girl paused, and then told them, “Oh yes… all night, I wanted to touch the fragile things.”
The little ones understand.
Here’s the wonderful irony in this unnerving truth. The very gifts that allow us to be fully human and fully alive are fragile precisely because they have the capacity to be broken open. These are all gifts that spill courage. And hope.
Yes. I do want to touch the fragile things.
I do not want my heart to be hard.
I do want my heart to be soft.
Well, at least that’s what I say out loud.
Of course it doesn’t help that we live in a world where soft isn’t popular. And fragile is considered detrimental. So, we choose tough, fighter, inflexible. It is not surprising that we hear too many stories about cruelty and bullying and bombast and ways we demean and diminish one another. And when I see this, it is easy to close the door of my heart.
We are human. We are prone to breakage. That’s not a surprise. Every one of us is or has tussled with grief, heartache, sorrow, woundedness and loss.
Although in our image consciousness, we scramble to appear put-together (sometimes in the name of God), and in so doing, we miss all the places where the light shines from the wound. (I must admit, to my detriment, I’m actually pretty good at that. You know, appearing put-together.) But after while, there’s no payoff to living implacable or callous. And I want to touch the fragile things. I want to touch my heart.
It’s too easy to put a moral price tag on fragile or wounded or broken places. Places to be concealed, or suppressed, or fixed.
And we miss the power to see grace there.
We miss the permission (and the gift) to let the wound be a place of healing.
We miss the exquisite beauty (strength and power and life) in what is fragile—and the light that shines from broken places—love, tenderness, kindness, generosity, gentleness and empathy.
There are times when my spirit goes dark (and the weight of our world now, doesn’t help), and I’m afraid to speak of it to anyone. Or fess up. (Perhaps you can relate?)
And yet, what better day to let the light shine on the dark, than Easter?
Because you see, here’s the deal: We are, every single one of us, wounded. And that is a gift.
We are, every single one of us, broken. And that is a gift.
We are blessedly human, and no one of us is on this journey alone. That too, is a gift.
Yes, I know. It doesn’t always feel that way (especially when you keep checking the scorecard). When I do look, I often don’t see any gift. Because I see brokenness and woundedness as impediments or disabilities, to be tidied up, overcome, or prayed away. What I don’t see, is the invitation to befriend my brokenness.
I miss the invitation of Easter—to embrace grace and beauty and wonder and the sacred in the ordinary.
This from Katie Jensen, “As we broke the bread, we repeated the traditional words, ‘This is Christ’s body, broken for you.’ But then the receiver, taking the piece of bread would answer ‘but brokenness is never the end of the story.’ Indeed, that is the resounding message of Easter. Brokenness (you know, our fragile places) is never the end of the story—not for Jesus, not for us, not for this world. Though often the plot twists and settings of our lives take crazy turns and at times the world often looks bleak and heartless, we can trust with Easter hope that our stories aren’t over yet.”
Here’s the good news. This reality—that we are indeed broken people—does not dishearten me. It motivates, animates and emboldens. To live with a soft heart keeps my hope alive. Knowing that the gift of my own fragile heart is the best gift I can give.
“Well, nobody else can live the life you live,” Mr. Rogers reminds us. “And even though no human being is perfect, we always have the chance to bring what’s unique about us to live in a redeeming way.”
Of course it is always easier to believe this affirmation about others, than it is to believe it about ourselves. And that light inside does dim from time to time. And if we’re honest we know how easy it is to live small or to be diminished; by shame or exhaustion or discouragement. And we are no longer dispensers of grace and light. In other words, we live with armor.
Why do I write Sabbath Moment? Because I want to live with a soft heart. And I need a reminder to set my armor down.
With a breakable heart we touch the fragile things, gentleness, empathy, compassion and kindness, and that can make all the difference.
For golf addicts and fans, it was Masters Tournament weekend. Let’s just say it’s a biggie. And heartening to watch.
The weather here less than fun with wind and rain… but living in Seattle means that Easter sunrise service may not be visited by the sun. So, let’s just say we carry it in our hearts.
Quote for our week…
“Some days there won’t be a song in your heart. Sing anyway.” Emory Austin
Today’s Photo Credit: Crocus on my walk this morning… Thank you to all, keep sending your photos… send to terryhershey.com
Yes, your gift makes a difference… Donation = Love…
Help make Sabbath Moment possible. I write SM because I want to live with a soft heart; to create a place for sanctuary, empathy, inclusion, compassion and kindness… a space where we are refueled to make a difference. SM remains free.
(NEW address by check: PO Box 65336, Port Ludlow, WA 98365
Letters that do my heart good…
–Wowee– today’s Sabbath Moment was just the jumpstart I needed to have a great day. Numinosity is going into my word bank for sure. What a beautiful description and insight with the use of the word. Helen
–Marvelous this morning, all of it, including the photo. Thank you, Terry, for gardening my soul, if you think of it that way, watering me with inspiration with your words and quotes from others and photos. You have greatly enriched my life. I read you first when I turn on the computer in the morning. Love and thanks. Carolyn
–Below was our reading last night. With this week’s sabbath and especially today, God the holy, God the lover of life is among us and spreading himself graciously. Stephen
–Hi Terry, Still in NW Arkansas and still busy with online ministry. Wanted you to know that this morning on a Zoom I used your story of the iris and the Colorado rafting trip. I used it as an example of Kairos time. Turned out to be an excellent choice. Thank you! I will also be sending a link to Sabbath Moment in the follow up email to participants as there was interest in your work. This has been an interesting Zoom series. Thank you again for “spilling the light!” Kathleen
POEMS AND PRAYERS
There is a light in this world, a healing spirit more powerful than any darkness we may encounter. Mother Teresa
The Grace of Beauty:
“Thank you, God, for beauty, for harmony and proportion, for order, symmetry, and balance…
Thank you for the pleasure beauty gives to our eyes, ears, nose, touch, and taste…
Thank you for oceans and snowflakes, for giraffes and ladybugs, for watercolor paintings and clay pots, for movies, plays, photographs, and dance…
for chirping birds and grand symphonies,
for the scent of roses and the smell of rain,
for the feel of clean sheets and a toddler’s hug,
for the taste of hot coffee or a cold bottle of beer…
Thank you God, for beauty in all its forms…
for we believe that all the beauty we experience is but a faint reflection of you,
O Most Beautiful One. Amen.
Sister Melannie Svoboda, SND
Draw us forth, God of all creation.
Draw us forward and away from limited certainty
into the immense world of your love.
Give us the capacity to even for a moment
taste the richness of the feast you give us.
Give us the peace to live with uncertainty,
Help us to experience the resurrection anew
with open wonder and an increasing ability
to see you in the people of Easter.